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Junior Autumn Leak bumps the ball towards the opposing Bucknell side during a game on Sept. 3.

Credit: Samantha Turner

Coming off a tough loss at Lehigh on Tuesday, Penn volleyball will look to bounce back with matches against in-city rivals Temple at 11 a.m. and Villanova at 3 p.m. on Saturday at the Owls’ City Classic, held annually at Temple’s McGonigle Hall. 

In Penn’s last match Tuesday night, the Quakers (3-4) overall looked solid but failed to make scoring runs in crucial moments during the four-set loss. Most notably, the Red and Blue had a 25-24 set point in the third set with a chance to take a 2-1 set lead. However, a Lehigh point and two service aces gave the Mountain Hawks the set, and they continued their momentum to a win. 

Despite the loss, there were a few bright spots for the Quakers, as junior outside hitter Autumn Leak tied her career-high with 21 kills. Leak has had over 20 kills in three of Penn’s seven matches so far and will look to carry over her dominant performance to Saturday.

Temple, Penn’s first opponent, has a 3-5 record this season, but the Owls are coming off a strong performance over Penn’s previous opponent, having beat Lehigh in straight sets during Saturday’s Tiger Invitational. Junior outside hitter Gem Grimshaw looks to continue her success at the tournament, where she had eight kills and a team-high 10 digs against Towson, followed by a 12-kill, six-dig performance against the Mountain Hawks. 

Grimshaw's exploits earned her All-Tournament honors. Other strong performers for the Owls include graduate student outside hitter Katerina Papazoglou, who posted team highs in assists with 13 against Towson and 18 against Lehigh.

Penn’s second opponent, Villanova, is on a three-game winning streak, with an overall record of 6-3. The Wildcats dominated the Northeastern Tournament with wins over Northeastern, Bryant, and Harvard. They will play Princeton and Temple on Friday, before facing the Quakers the day after. 

Strong performers for the Wildcats include sophomore outside hitter Riley Homer, who totaled a career-high 25 kills and 10 digs against Northeastern, as well as 49 kills over the three matches in the tournament. In addition, sophomore middle blocker Kiera Booth was dominant defensively, with 27 kills and 17 blocks over the three matches. Both Homer and Booth earned tournament honors for their performances. 

It should be a weekend of tough contests for the Quakers. Both Temple and Villanova are strong teams, and they should give Penn a good benchmark of how to improve before it begins Ivy League play against Princeton on Sept. 24.